The working classes only enter into the GEM and MAGNET as comicsor semi-villains (race-course touts, etc.). As for class-friction,trade unionism, strikes, slumps, unemployment, Fascism and civilwar–not a mention. Somewhere or other in the thirty years'issue of the two papers you might perhaps find the word'Socialism', but you would have to look a long time for it. If theRussian Revolution is anywhere referred to, it will be indirectly,in the word 'Bolshy' (meaning a person of violent disagreeablehabits). Hitler and the Nazis are just beginning to make theirappearance, in the sort of reference I quoted above. The war-crisisof September 1938 made just enough impression to produce a story inwhich Mr Vernon-Smith, the Bounder's millionaire father, cashed inon the general panic by buying up country houses in order to sellthem to 'crisis scuttlers'. But that is probably as near tonoticing the European situation as the GEM and MAGNET will come,until the war actually starts. That does not mean that these papersare unpatriotic–quite the contrary! Throughout the Great Warthe GEM and MAGNET were perhaps the most consistently andcheerfully patriotic papers in England. Almost every week the boyscaught a spy or pushed a conchy into the army, and during therationing period 'EAT LESS BREAD' was printed in large type onevery page. But their patriotism has nothing whatever to do withpower-politics or 'ideological' warfare. It is more akin to familyloyalty, and actually it gives one a valuable clue to the attitudeof ordinary people, especially the huge untouched block of themiddle class and the better-off working class. These people arepatriotic to the middle of their bones, but they do not feel thatwhat happens in foreign countries is any of their business. WhenEngland is in danger they rally to its defence as a matter ofcourse, but in between-times they are not interested. After all,England is always in the right and England always wins, so whyworry? It is an attitude that has been shaken during the pasttwenty years, but not so deeply as is sometimes supposed. Failureto understand it is one of the reasons why Left Wing politicalparties are seldom able to produce an acceptable foreignpolicy.
I do not believe that there is anything inherently andunavoidably ugly about industrialism. A factory or even a gasworksis not obliged of its own nature to be ugly, any more than a palaceor a dog-kennel or a cathedral. It all depends on the architecturaltradition of the period. The industrial towns of the North are uglybecause they happen to have been built at a time when modernmethods of steel-construction and smoke-abatement were unknown, andwhen everyone was too busy making money to think about anythingelse. They go on being ugly largely because the Northerners havegot used to that kind of thing and do not notice it. Many of thepeople in Sheffield or Manchester, if they smelled the air alongthe Cornish cliffs, would probably declare that it had no taste init. But since the war, industry has tended to shift southward andin doing so has grown almost comely. The typical post-war factoryis not a gaunt barrack or an awful chaos of blackness and belchingchimneys; it is a glittering white structure of concrete, glass,and steel, surrounded by green lawns and beds of tulips. Look atthe factories you pass as you travel out of London on the G.W.R.;they may not be aesthetic triumphs but certainly they are not uglyin the same way as the Sheffield gasworks. But in any case, thoughthe ugliness of industrialism is the most obvious thing about itand the thing every newcomer exclaims against, I doubt whether itis centrally important. And perhaps it is not even desirable,industrialism being what it is, that it should learn to disguiseitself as something else. As Mr Aldous Huxley has truly remarked, adark Satanic mill ought to look like a dark Satanic mill and notlike the temple of mysterious and splendid gods. Moreover, even inthe worst of the industrial towns one sees a great deal that is notugly in the narrow aesthetic sense. A belching chimney or astinking slum is repulsive chiefly because it implies warped livesand ailing children. Look at it from a purely aesthetic standpointand it may, have a certain macabre appeal. I find that anythingoutrageously strange generally ends by fascinating me even when Iabominate it. The landscapes of Burma, which, when I was amongthem, so appalled me as to assume the qualities of nightmare,afterwards stayed so hauntingly in my mind that I was obliged towrite a novel about them to get rid of them. (In all novels aboutthe East the scenery is the real subject-matter.) It would probablybe quite easy to extract a sort of beauty, as Arnold Bennett did,from the blackness of the industrial towns; one can easily imagineBaudelaire, for instance, writing a poem about a slag-heap. But thebeauty or ugliness of industrialism hardly matters. Its real evillies far deeper and is quite uneradicable. It is important toremember this, because there is always a temptation to think thatindustrialism is harmless so long as it is clean and orderly.
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